Underground Film Journal

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Short Film: Mind Control Made Easy

By Mike Everleth ⋅ February 23, 2011

In these difficult economic times, there’s one job that’s always in demand and that pays huge dividends: Cult leader! Didn’t you always want to become a cult leader, but didn’t know where to start? Luckily, filmmaker Carey Burtt has uploaded his classic underground instructional film Mind Control Made Easy (or how to become a cult leader) to set you on the right career path. Just follow these easy to understand steps and, in no time, you’ll have a devoted flock giving you all their money, their bodies and their humanity. Don’t be a follower. Be a leader! A cult leader!

I’ve been waiting years for this film to show up online. I originally saw it at the 2001 New York Underground Film Festival and was completely blown away by it. This was one of those films that really stuck with me over the years and I’ve been subscribing to Burtt’s YouTube channel hoping for the day he’d finally get this up. Seeing it again after all these years, I think it’s even more genius that I remembered.

As I noted in the original review, the best thing about the film is that, while it’s giving you instructions on how to indoctrinate others into your cult, the repetitive, droning music and flatness of tone of the narrator lulls you into a near hypnotic trance. You feel like you’ve joined a cult yourself by the time it’s all over. The cult of Burtt!

Woman wearing a t-shirt that says "Cult Member" has a gun pointed at her head

Plus, the film is downright hilarious in just how spot on the actual instructions are. This really is how cults  grow their membership: The bogus scientific and/or religious evidence; the separation from friends and family; the layering on of fear and guilt; the painting of all non-cult members as enemies and sub-humans; and, really, just the incessant beating over the head of the cult’s principles and devotion to “good work.”

But, even beyond cults, I think we’re starting to see a lot of these tactics becoming part of the normal, everyday discourse. We’re always being told to fear somebody or calling those who belong to a different political or social spectrum as being something other than human or “normal.” I think in many ways, humans might be easily susceptible to this type of thinking and that cult leaders prey upon that in an amplified fashion. It’s not that they’re acting beyond behavioral norms, but playing into it in an energized state.

If you want to watch more short films by Burtt, please visit his YouTube channel. But, if you have the time and you haven’t seen it before, be sure to watch his The Psychotic Odyssey of Richard Chase.

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